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Slavery in California

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by major bill, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. major bill

    major bill Captain Forum Host

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    There was some agitation for slavery in California before California became a state, but in the end California came in as a free state. This helped upset the balance of power in the US Senate. In 1851 James Gladsden of South Carolina tried to get the California legislature to allow slavery in the southern part of California in hopes the state could be divided in to two states, one free and one slave. this would have helped to retain a balance of free and slave states in the US Senate. The suggestion was not seriously considered in California. If California had became two states with slavery in South California would have this helped the US avoid a war? One could assume that the area between Texas and South California would have been open to slavery. There was also some hope that slavery would become legal in Oregon and perhaps the state of Washington. If slavery was legal in South California, Oregon and Washington, it would seem like the slave owners would have had room to extend slavery and this could have cooled some to the tension between to North and South.
     

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  3. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    Assuming Southern California was split from California what would one do with the slaves? What crop could be grown in Southern California that would support slaves? Yes their was some mining but not much. Yes Mexico did have slavery but in the wetter Yachatan (sp?)Peninsula prior to Mexican independence when slavery was outlawed a good 40 years before the U.S.
    California's irrigation system wasn't built until decades after the Civil War.
    Prior to the railroads how would crops economically be shiped back east? Their was no Panama canal. Any crop would have to survive a long hot journy via Nicaragua.
    Leftyhunter
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
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  4. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    Same question about Oregon and Washington. Even if slavery is legal now what? How is slavery going to economically feasible? Maybe that is why the slave owners were hot to trot on Cuba and Central America.
    Leftyhunter
     
  5. major bill

    major bill Captain Forum Host

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    I used California because the was some push it split California in to two states with slavery in the southern state. I asked about Oregon because they insisted on deciding the slavery issue and not be dictated to by the federal government. It is true that the supporters of slavery would have had their work cut out for them in both states.
     
  6. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    I think you are understating the issue. Early on, slave owners were using slave names as a way to get an extra land claim or two. They would also use them to work the mines and streams which irritated non-slave holders who could not get extra claims or work as much area.

    This book may be of assistance.
    51S4mdrZxrL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
    https://www.amazon.com/California-Coming-Civil-Vintage-Library/dp/0307277577
     
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  7. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    Even if California was wide open to slavery how many slaves could of been profitably employed in California?
    Leftyhunter
     
  8. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    San Joaquin Valley? Timber industry? Mining?
     
  9. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    The San Joaquin had no reliable water source other then flooding from the Kern River when it flooded. It would be many decades before the feds would build a comprehensive irritation system.
    Timber is very problematic in the antebellum era. It would have to be carried by ship via Nicaragua. A very expensive proposition. Mining for gold maybe a few but once the vein is exhausted now what?
    Leftyhunter
     
  10. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    Shrug. Didn't seem to stop people from bringing slaves into California, did it?
     
  11. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    For how long?
    Leftyhunter
     
  12. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Jefferson Davis was planning, during his stint in the federal government, to run a railroad basically from Savannah to Los Angeles. He was expanding the highway system as well - all looking to fix that problem of how to get what was on the west coast to the east coast without rounding the Horn. Slavery wasn't much use, really, except for the extensive agricultural production in the South - and besides, the Chinese were cheaper yet. You didn't have to feed and clothe them!

    The sympathy for secession in California was mainly in the mining camps and among Californio separatists, who wanted to go back with Mexico - not be part of the Confederacy. After independence from Spain, Mexico had other fish to fry and neglected Alta California, which enabled American squatters to funnel in. When the Mexicans threatened to evict them, they did the Bear Republic Revolt. Which was a lot of nerve...they didn't live there, it wasn't their land and it wasn't their government! Well, Mexico had outlawed slavery when it became independent, so even if the Californios got their way later, there would not have been slavery in southern California anyway.
     
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  13. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    My guess until Dec. 6, 1865.
     
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  14. John Winn

    John Winn Captain

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    I had that conversation with our local historian/archeologist guru (Jeff Lalande) and he said pretty much what diane said: slaves could have been used in mining and road building but there wasn't enough money to bring them out for that really. Logging was still small scale and localized at the time so that wouldn't have been a motivation. Of course, anywhere that something labor intensive was needed a few slaves would have been useful to their owners so small numbers could certainly have been brought out and put to work even on homesteads. I don't think there was ever any support for the Confederacy or slavery in Washington but in Oregon there was in the southwestern corner of the state (where Joe Lane was from; Breckenridge's VP candidate). Lincoln lost those counties in both elections and the Oregon constitution prohibited free blacks from becoming citizens.

    So, no, big-time plantation-type slavery just wasn't ever going to work out west and certainly not in California or Oregon and I don't think there were enough pro-slavery voters in CA or OR to make either state a slave state even if there were pockets of those amenable to such.
     
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  15. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    Just to clarify, I wasn't suggesting large-scale slavery in California but the notion that there was nothing for slaves to do. Obviously there were enough slaves and slave holders in the area to make it a concern.
     
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